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Selecting 1st Year Pitchers (10u)

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  • Selecting 1st Year Pitchers (10u)

    So, I am exactly what my username says. I have been reading these forums for a few months and I have read about a year worth of posts. I am the coach's wife, but in some ways, I am an assistant coach as well. He bounces a lot off me. I was a college track and field athlete, so athletics is within my wheelhouse. I help with practice plans, practice, keeping stats, developing drills, defensive lineups, and batting order. In the past, he has coached 9u, 10u, and 11u (different sons - so all different teams). In all cases, this was a fill-in role, a can you take over. Well, now he has a team. A 10u team that he is responsible for developing into a future 14u AAA/Majors caliber team.

    The team is comprised of the best players from 2 rec league teams. They were 2 of the top 3 teams in the rec league. The new team will move out of the rec league and will play 10u-AA league ball and a couple of tournaments. This will be the first year of kid-pitch for this group of players. They were previously machine pitch. I already know what we are in for because we have an older son who has made that jump.

    Coach is very strong on wanting to develop players, giving kids opportunity, rotating players through every position they have the skills to play. He rotates players every inning to keep them interested and give them time at a variety of positions. Kids love playing for him and parents love his style and how he develops ALL the kids. He played D1 college baseball and believes that until a kid is 14, he doesn't have a position - he's a baseball player.

    To that end, any kid who wants to try pitching is welcomed to come to pitching practice. In the past, this has worked wonderfully because parents and players saw for themselves why Johnnie can't pitch and they stopped coming to pitching practice. Well, this policy also bit him in the tail once because one (11u) dad decided that his son could be a pitcher the last two weeks of the season and even asked if his son could be the starting pitcher in the last game. This after coach gave him a pre-practice tryout in which he didn't throw one strike.

    So - here in lies the dilemma. He wants to send a clear message that everyone is welcomed to try to be a pitcher AT PRACTICE, but that does not guarantee time on the mound in a game. This was lost in translation for that one dad. Also, for development reasons, he wants to limit the pitching rotation to 4 main pitchers + 2 backups. So he has to have some criteria to select the top 6 - in case more than 6 show up. Does anyone have any suggestions on what criteria can be used? We like the idea of having criteria because this criterion becomes goals for those wanting to pitch and we can continue to increase the criteria as they age. But what should the starting criteria be? What is realistic for this group of kids?


    Some thoughts:
    - attend at least 60% of pitcher workouts since the start of the season
    - attend at least 90% of team workouts
    - be a positive, hardworking teammate
    - throw at least 35% strikes at practice (I know this is low, but is it fair?)
    what else?


    FYI: this is not a select team, parents are not paying much more than league registration fees, Coach is not paid. These are athletic boys who love playing baseball and (former athlete) parents who aren't going to pay $1600/season for them to play higher than rec ball. We looked up the value of a baseball scholly and we all decided to invest in 529's instead. We'll revisit after 13u.

  • #2
    You are going to play tournaments? What is the strategy for pitch limits? How many pitchers will you need to develop to have enough for tournaments?

    35% strikes is very low and it pretty horrible in a game, imo. 50% strikes is imo the edge of effectively wild..

    Comment


    • #3
      Tournaments are typically four game minimums. At 10u you need at least eight pitchers and a couple of emergency pitchers. The eight need to throw at least 60% strikes.

      There doesn’t need to be criteria for who pitches other than the coach decides. You can’t always go by practice. Some kids are great in practice and no so hot in games. Some kids are better in games than practice.

      As for the college scholarship comments don’t stop saving money. D3 doesn’t provide athletic scholarships. D1 only has 11.7 to be shared by up to 27 players with 8 paying their full way. Only top of the draft prospects get more than 25%. D2 only has 9 scholarships to be divided up as the coach decides. There’s 22 times as much academic money.

      Comment


      • #4
        I've always used the rule of thumb that 50% is good/acceptable for 9U, 60% for 10U, and 65% for 11U, then it starts to rapidly flatten out from there and the main criteria is less just throwing strikes than throwing strikes that can't be hit.

        If your question is, "Which 10U kids are pitchers?" the answer should be all of them and you should basically expect all of them to regularly practice pitching and try to pitch in at least one game per season. Never write one off because you never know when a lightbulb will flicker on and a kid starts to figure it out and throw strikes. (although your example of the dad deciding with two games left is a bit ridiculous) But for a 10U tournament team, you need a LOT of pitchers and can't just rely on the same 3-4 every single weekend.

        If your question is, "How do I know who goes in the game?" then that's entirely up to the coach. In my opinion, the best way to do that is to see which pitchers get the most batters out, regardless of how pretty they do it. I like WHIP as a simple and objective stat for making that type of evaluation - either the batters get on base or they are (or should have been) out. No in between.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by CrimsonGuy View Post

          If your question is, "How do I know who goes in the game?" then that's entirely up to the coach. In my opinion, the best way to do that is to see which pitchers get the most batters out, regardless of how pretty they do it. I like WHIP as a simple and objective stat for making that type of evaluation - either the batters get on base or they are (or should have been) out. No in between.
          This is another way to state what I am asking. As I said, EVERYONE who wants to pitch can train to pitch, but that does not mean that every kid should take the mound in a game. With the ages we deal with, pitching has always gotten worse in a game, not better -- unless you run into undisciplined batters. I think he will have a feel for who should pitch in a game. We just like to put things on paper, metrics. We also like to give the athletes goals. At the same time, he hasn't had to evaluate pitchers this age, so I hoped to glean some help from you guys on that front. 50% strikes will not happen for a while (maybe till Spring). I know this from experience with older sons. Around here when rec ball kids leave machine pitch for kid pitch, that first season is EXCRUCIATING. It may be better among select kids.

          Our tournaments are min 3 games. So I will pass on the advice to go to an 8-man rotation. His 6-man rotation did not mean that only 6 would take the mound. It meant that 6 would be in the regular rotation. If all the kids (13) show up to pitcher training, they will all train, we just wanted a way to draw a line between who makes the rotation and who keeps developing in bullpens only. This is obvious with older / experienced pitchers. We just aren't so sure that it will be obvious with these younger pitchers. So we wanted advice from you guys.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by bbrages View Post
            You are going to play tournaments? What is the strategy for pitch limits? How many pitchers will you need to develop to have enough for tournaments?

            35% strikes is very low and it pretty horrible in a game, imo. 50% strikes is imo the edge of effectively wild..
            Yes, 2 tournaments; 3 game min; likely 5 game max. There are pitch limit rules here. To give all pitchers time on mound, he is thinking to pitch each pitcher one inning for a while. This would be about 35 pitches because of 5 run rule. These kids have never pitched so he will not pitch them more than 35 in a game for a while. We typically only get 4 innings completed in a game, so this allows 4 pitchers to get work / experience. SO if we go to 8 man rotation, then they will each get one inning every other week. They will also each get 1-2 inning(s) in each of the two tournaments. This is why he wanted to keep the rotation short, so they got more experience, but that may not work because I agree that we likely need 8.

            They will not throw 50% strikes for a while, I haven't seen that in these leagues. First year of kid pitch is AWFUL around here. It is so bad that we played our older son up in the Spring because we couldn't sit through those games again like we did that fall.
            Last edited by Coach'sWife; 08-07-2018, 07:25 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              the fundamental idea of getting down to a small number of pitchers is flawed.

              the goal is getting as many effective pitchers as possible. especially in the off season, your practices/training should be about advancing towards that goal. if you only end up with 6, that's what you got. if you have 8, that's better. if you have 10, the challenge is not how do you rule some of them out, the challenge is getting them all on the mound in games. that is a good problem to have.

              the games never go the way you are planning. pitching in tournaments is all about availability and options.

              Comment


              • #8
                JMO of course.... but 10u and first year of kid pitch is late, even when my kid played LL back in 2012 it was 8yr old first year kid/coach pitch, and 9yr old full kid pitch. We left LL and played TB tournaments and the 10u kids throwing strikes 60-75% of the time, and some of the early developers with some gas.

                At 10u if I could draft a perfect team, and if you forming your own AA TB team then you can. I would take 12 pitchers/SS :-)
                Now if your out just to develop what you were given, then require everyone to attend pitching practice. When I had my team I would tell my parents that I would pitch any kid that could safely and effectively do so, with a 50% strike rate. Two days before every tournament we had mini bullpens off to the side. Kids got 12 warm up pitches, then throw a 10 pitch live bullpen with strike/ball recorded. That told me who got a shot that weekend. I always invited parents to stay and watch, that way they knew what we working on and in turn could work with their kids at home.

                As a Coach you have to remind them that just because they bring them to your practice twice a week, they will not be great ball players. The ones that are great work at home extra with parents, brother, uncle, etc.

                Comment


                • #9
                  For my young teams, I had 5'x5' banners made similar to this below, they cost me about $45 each. I had 3 and hung them on the foul line fence, set 10 balls at each station, and had parents record strike/balls.
                  c.JPG

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I’d scrimmage a lot, 6v6 and change pitchers every inning. It won’t take you long to know who your pitchers are. I’ve had kids who if they were just throwing at a target wouldn’t look special, but against hitters, had good movement on the ball and a lot of success.

                    I will say that if you intend to play AAA/majors, your overall team concept will get you beaten like a red headed stepchild. Those level teams we play in Florida often recruit regionally, every kid takes private lessons, a growing number have strength and conditioning coaching. Most will throw 55+, with at least one off speed pitch. Walks are rare. Players are highly specialized at their position.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Agree with above... It sounds like you are trying to take a bunch of "rec" kids to the next level. But the truth is, the next level up from rec is just like rec but without any of the poor players. So you're going to have to drop your bad players. Or you could "coach them up", but I think bad players are bad because they don't really care/love the game, so good luck with that. IMO again, if you have 10 year olds and it looks like 35% strikes is a decent pitching benchmark, you have quite a few poor players.

                      Unless you are using "AAA/majors" in a way that means something besides the very top players in the region.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        From both theoretical perspective and practical experience, kids shouldn’t be allowed or expected to pitch if they can’t pitch 50 percent strikes. If they can’t hit a target like the one pictured above 6 out of ten times, try again next week. If your pitcher is hovering at 50 percent in a game, and not throwing heat, there will be a lot of hits and walks, and you will need three pitchers per game with a 35 pitch limit. A lot depends on your team’s ability to make routine plays also. An inning that should be 12 pitches can turn into 25 pretty quickly. That defined our season this year, and it is painful to watch.
                        Last edited by Nib; 08-07-2018, 02:04 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I am not sure how things are getting lost in translation, but this group of kids is NOT going to play AAA/Majors ball. They are going from rec to A. The goal is to ultimately progress to that level over the next 4-5 years. Our #1 goal is player development, not winning 4th-grade baseball games. We all have our own athletic accolades, we don't need 4th-grade wins to feel great.

                          Also, it is clear that our situation is not common: 10u players pitching for the first time. So having 10u players pitching under 50% is not acceptable/common to you guys. But I have been to too many 10u games to believe that these kids are pitching 50% strikes. But I have never written down numbers, so maybe they are.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by abc123 View Post
                            the fundamental idea of getting down to a small number of pitchers is flawed.

                            the goal is getting as many effective pitchers as possible. especially in the off season, your practices/training should be about advancing towards that goal. if you only end up with 6, that's what you got. if you have 8, that's better. if you have 10, the challenge is not how do you rule some of them out, the challenge is getting them all on the mound in games. that is a good problem to have.

                            the games never go the way you are planning. pitching in tournaments is all about availability and options.
                            So the goal isn't to eliminate pitchers, it is if there was any wisdom that could be shared to help us know what to look at when determining who takes the mound in a game.

                            But you actually hit the nail on the head. We believe that we will have a lot of capable kids, and that we will have the problem of how to get them all time on the mound. Is it better to have 10 pitchers who all pitched 5 innings a season or to have 6 pitchers who have pitched 9 innings? We thought it was the latter, so we need a way to select the top 6. The remaining pitchers would continue to train and would pitch in those situations that come up (weaker opponent, blow out, emergency, etc...)

                            Now, with all the comments here, I think that we should -instead- try to figure out how to get more innings --- like scrimmages as another poster suggested.
                            Last edited by Coach'sWife; 08-07-2018, 03:29 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mobius75 View Post
                              I’d scrimmage a lot, 6v6 and change pitchers every inning. It won’t take you long to know who your pitchers are. I’ve had kids who if they were just throwing at a target wouldn’t look special, but against hitters, had good movement on the ball and a lot of success.

                              I will say that if you intend to play AAA/majors, your overall team concept will get you beaten like a red headed stepchild. Those level teams we play in Florida often recruit regionally, every kid takes private lessons, a growing number have strength and conditioning coaching. Most will throw 55+, with at least one off speed pitch. Walks are rare. Players are highly specialized at their position.
                              I think this may be the answer. I was looking for a way to select game-day pitchers, but with the insight shared here, our true problem may be that we don't have enough innings. So we are going to look at scrimmaging to get more innings.


                              We are fully aware of the 10u-specialist. We don't have those and won't be playing against anyone who does, so we are fine.

                              Comment

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